College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Southern California Shakespeare Festival presents ‘Macbeth’ at Cal Poly Pomona

Robert Shields as Macbeth with Daniella Tarankow as Lady Macbeth in the Southern California Shakespeare Festival presentation of “Macbeth” at Cal Poly Pomona.

To be, or not to be — that was not a question for Linda Bisesti.

The thespian knew the Inland Empire was lacking a venue for William Shakespeare fans to enjoy the English poet and playwright’s greatest work. So Bisesti decided to do something about it.

“I didn’t see a lot of Shakespeare festivals around Pomona in the immediate vicinity. I felt the university could be put in a position to be a venue for that,” said Bisesti, the head of acting in the Bachelor of Arts Theatre Arts program at Cal Poly Pomona who directs and teaches voice.

So Bisesti began the Southern California Shakespeare Festival, which now celebrates its 11th year with “Macbeth” from Sept. 5-Oct. 4 at the university.

“Macbeth” is a William Shakespeare written classic drama play about a Scottish king who, after military success, rises to the top spot using dubious methods and military force before he sets himself up for a fall because of his unchecked ambition.

While students are minor characters, professional actors play the biggest roles, with this year featuring the largest cast ever.

“It’s grown tremendously,” Bisesti said about the festival.

Guest director David Fox, who hails from Boston, called the professional company in residence at the Cal Poly Pomona Department of Theatre and New Dance “first rate.”

“What everyone has done there at Cal Poly is very admirable. They’re hungry for this. They’re a very dedicated group,” Fox said. “It’s not easy to get audiences to attend live theater anymore and it’s especially difficult to get audiences to see Shakespeare, but they’ve made incredible strides and I just hope that the company lasts and the work continues. I think it’s something that every community needs.”

Robert Shields, a 2012 graduate of Cal Poly Pomona who earned a degree in theater acting, plays the main character Macbeth. He described his college experience as a “superlative” one.

“In other schools, while their name might be more recognizable, at Cal Poly you get to work often,” said the 28-year-old Sierra Madre resident. “Linda is the heart and soul of the whole program. Without her, it wouldn’t happen.”

What: Southern California Shakespeare Festival presents “Macbeth.”

When: 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 5-Oct. 4; 7 p.m. Sept. 10 and 11 at The School of Arts and Enterprise; 8 p.m. Sept. 25 at Cal Poly Pomona.

Where: Studio Theatre, Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Building 25-110, Pomona; The School of Arts and Enterprise, 295 N. Garey Ave., Pomona.

Tickets: $15; $12, seniors/students/Cal Poly faculty and staff.

Information: 909-869-3900, classcsupomona.tix.com, www.southerncaliforniashakespearefestival.org

Article by Wes Woods.  Originally appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on 9/1/15.  View original article here.